Crested geckos are small lizards that need a humid environment to avoid dehydrating. They can easily dehydrate if they don’t have access to water or live in an area with low humidity levels, such as desert areas. If you keep your crested gecko in a dry location for too long, it will dehydrate and show unhealthy signs. So, how do you know your crested gecko is dehydrated?
Signs of a dehydrated crested gecko include loss of the skin’s elasticity, sunken eyes, wrinkled dry skin to the touch, and lethargy. Provide a shallow bowl of drinking water in the tank and mist its environment to rehydrate the reptile quickly. Also, use electrolyte soaks to prevent dehydration.
Crested geckos need water to remain healthy and happy. The dehydrated crested gecko will have an unhealthy appearance, slow movements, and lethargic behaviour when dehydrated. I’ve discussed these and more symptoms below so that you can tell if your reptile needs water as soon as possible.
Do crested geckos need water?
Crested geckos, like other reptiles, need to drink water to remain hydrated and healthy. This is why it is important to keep a small shallow water dish in their tank so that they can drink from it whenever they feel thirsty. Without water, you’ll start to see signs of dehydration in your crested gecko.
These geckos don’t live in water like their amphibian relatives do but they actually need a lot more humidity than most reptiles. This is because crested geckos have skin covered in small creases and folds that help them to filter humidity from the air.
These creased, wet skin surfaces also offer protection against bacteria which can be an issue with crested geckos since they are a cold-blooded species (ectothermic) that must rely on outside sources of heat.
Pro tip: Since crested geckos cannot swim naturally, you might want to provide just a shallow dish of water to prevent them from drowning in case they fall into the pool.
Signs of Dehydration in Crested Geckos
Dehydration in reptiles is a common, but often avoidable condition. Reptiles are cold-blooded and rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature. When they’re too hot or too cool, it interferes with normal kidney function which can lead to signs of dehydration. But, how do you tell your crested gecko is dehydrated?
Here are signs of dehydration in crested geckos:
1. Loss of skin elasticity
A gecko’s skin is always retained by a layer of skin cells and scales, but as it dries out, the skin begins to dry up and lose its elasticity. Loss of elasticity can happen for many reasons but top among them is inadequate water intake (either from food or from drinking).
Other reasons for loss elasticity include too much UV light exposure (like lack of shaded spots in the reptile gecko’s tank) or very low humidity levels that prevent moisture retention in the skin.
If your pet has any of these symptoms you should speak with a veterinarian about when they recommend administering fluids intravenously. This might be a good idea especially if you think your crested gecko is showing signs of dying from severe dehydration.
A lethargic crested gecko will show no interest in its environment, the pet owner, or anything. The lack of energy and enthusiasm is a worrying sign as your gecko might even stop eating.
Lethargy is a symptom of dehydration and probably not eating enough, often resulting in skin that has lost its usual appearance. It’s important to note that lethargy can come from many different causes – including disease – but the top two are inadequate water intake and overexposure to heat in the vivarium.
While you may suspect that your crested gecko is lethargic due to lack of water or food, I would highly advise you take the pet to a reptile vet near you for proper examination to determine if there’s any other problem.
3. Loss of appetite and weight loss
Loss of appetite in a gecko can be due to dehydration. It is possible that the signs of dehydration are coming from feeding on dry food only without drinking water. Eventually, extreme thirst will kick in leading to loss of appetite, energy, and weight loss.
But what does it mean when your crested gecko loses weight? Loss of appetite and loss of weight are common symptoms if you notice that your crested gecko is not eating or is losing his usual food and water intake.
In addition, weight loss in crested geckos can be a major sign of stress that lack of water can cause the pet. If you closely monitor your reptile, you’ll easily notice that they’re not eating enough especially when there isn’t water in the reptile’s enclosure over a long duration.
4. Wrinkled and dry skin
A dehydrated crested gecko will have wrinkles and dry skin to the touch. Wrinkles in a normal gecko are just folds of skin, but when they’re dehydrated you’ll notice that the lines deepen and become more pronounced.
The skin might also be flaky or chalky-looking instead of moist like usual. It’s usually dark in color and soft to the touch. Wrinkles are probably one of the most easily observable signs that a crested gecko is dehydrated, but it’s important to note if you see any other symptoms as well – especially lethargy or slowed movements.
- Overly wrinkled skin in geckos can mean dehydration due to the lizard not drinking water over a long period.
- Unusual wrinkles can also be a sign of very low humidity – so check the pet’s enclosure to see if the humidity level is optimum.
- High temperatures can also lead to stress, extreme water loss (dehydration), and dry skin.
For this problem, it is easy to identify the signs and symptoms since the lizard’s appearance will have changed. Quick rehydration should restore the skin of your reptile.
5. Shedding problems
Another sign your crested gecko is dehydrated is shedding problems. Dehydration can cause shedding difficulties for a crested gecko because the shedding cycle is tightly linked to water intake and hydration levels in general.
If you notice the skin stuck around some parts of the gecko during the shedding process, it could be a sign that the crested gecko is not getting enough water to drink.
Alternatively, the moisture level in the gecko’s tank may also be lower than required, which means that the skin can get stuck around the eyes and on the feet when shedding.
It’s important that your gecko has access to clean, fresh drinking water at all times if they’re shedding as it helps with shedding cycles (especially molting).
The lack of water can also cause your crested gecko to constipate. Compaction happens when the food is too dry, and your gecko does not have water in the enclosure to drink.
As a result, there will be limited bowel movements, or even painful defaecation by the gecko. In some cases of severe dehydration, you may notice reduced droppings or even no droppings at all in the substrate.
7. Sticky tongue
A dehydrated crested gecko will have a sticky tongue that is hard to move. The mouth may also be very dry, sometimes with cracked skin around the corners of the lips and on the floor of the mouth.
The gecko will start to feel uncomfortable even when picking up food to eat – a task that might become difficult due to dehydration.
To check if the gecko is dehydrated, pick it up and gently open its mouth to see if the mouth is dry or sticky.
Dehydrated crested geckos often have a hard time moving their tongues which makes eating. Therefore, you’ll notice mass wasting or loss of weight due to lack of food that results from severe dehydration.
8. Sunken eyes
Sunken eyes can result from lack of water that leads to dehydration in your crested gecko. Some dehydrated geckos will have sunken eyes that are visible from the outside.
However, sunken eyes can also be caused by other factors such as age or illness so it’s important to observe your crested gecko closely for more symptoms.
Most crested geckos will go into a state called brumation in the winter. This is when they become less active due to cooler temperatures, but signs of dehydration can still be present.
How to Rehydrate Your Crested Gecko
The signs of dehydration can be mild and go unnoticed or they could be severe with your gecko becoming lethargic, its skin losing elasticity, shedding problems, constipation, sunken eyes and a sticky tongue. Dehydration is common in crested geckos but it’s often avoidable by providing them an appropriate environment and water.
Here are ways to treat and rehydrate your crested gecko:
1. Provide a bowl of water in the enclosure
Fill a broad, flat dish with water and place it in the vivarium to provide a constant drinking spot for the crested gecko. The pet will drink from the water source whenever it feels thirsty.
If you notice signs of dehydration, provide drinking water as soon as possible to treat dehydration quickly and prevent further danger to your reptile pet.
2. Increase humidity in the tank
The best way to keep your gecko hydrated is to maintain a humidity level of 50-60% in the tank. This will prevent the skin from losing too much water through desiccation.
Here are ways to increase humidity in the leopard gecko’s enclosure:
- Rehydrate your crested gecko by misting their enclosure with water and providing a dripping water bottle. Make sure to monitor the temperature of the droplets, as too much heat can be dangerous for these creatures.
- Fill an ice cube tray with drinking water or put wet paper towels inside and wrap in clear plastic to provide a constant supply of fresh water droplets.
- Create an environment where droplets won’t dry up quickly by using a spray bottle set at low pressure, which causes slow but steady drip.
- Put damp moss or paper towel in the gecko’s enclosure to create a moist environment.
3. Use an electrolyte soak to rehydrate your gecko
A reptile electrolyte is another great option for treating a dehydrated crested gecko. It works fast especially if you couple it with misting and general humidity fixes in the reptile’s tank.
Some of the best electrolyte soaks for crested geckos, bearded dragons, and even leopard geckos is the Zoo Med Reptile Electorlyte Soak.
A lot of reptiles can benefit from the occasional soak. It’s a gentle and non-invasive way to keep them hydrated, it can help soften their loose skin if they’re having trouble shedding, and it can also encourage relieving of waste if they’re having minor intestinal troubles.
Using a soak is also a great way to hydrate and relax new pets that may be stressed from traveling, aid pets as they change their diet, and support sick pets as they recover.
There are a few things you can do to prevent dehydration from occurring to your crested gecko. Here are great tips to help you prevent dehydration.
Provide wet food
Geckos need water in their diet. Try to feed your gecko with wet food such as safe fruit, salad or worms. These foods will help them stay hydrated internally without having to drink too much fluid from the tank.
Maintain proper temperature (72-78°F)
Geckos are not very good at regulating their own body temperature. Keep the room temperature between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius (72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit).
When temperatures in the vivarium are too high, your crested gecko is losing a lot of water through desiccation. It is important to rehydrate and also to keep the heat low not to stress the lizard.
Maintain humidity at 50-60%
Use a water bottle or drip system if your gecko is on land, and mist them regularly with water from a spray bottle if they’re in an enclosure. This will help keep humidity in check and prevent dehydrating the gecko.
Misting can also go a long way in keeping the gecko hydrated at all times even when there’s a little bit too much heat in the environment.
Provide gentle baths frequently
Baths are a great way to keep the gecko hydrated from outside. If you see signs of dehydration, try an electrolyte bath.
However, don’t wait for those signs – simply provide periodical baths especially if you feed your reptile with dry food to keep it hydrated all the time.
While some people may find it helpful to mist their geckos with water on occasion, you should avoid doing this too often as it can lead to skin problems. It is best to treat dehydration in crested geckos by providing a constant supply of fresh water and maintaining proper humidity levels in the gecko’s enclosure.
READ ALSO: Can Crested Geckos Swim?